There are many Christmas/New Year traditions around the world. Some are quite conventional and some are completely different.
Despite being officially a secular state, the most prevalent religion in Brazil is Catholicism – because of this you can see many references to Catholic saints and other holy characters in Christmas decorations around here. On the other hand, during the New Year celebrations there are more references to African rooted religions such as the Yoruba, where many Brazilians perform good luck rituals to have a more prosperous year. And there are even some traditions that aren’t attached to any sort of spiritual meaning, but have been going on for so long that now it’s impossible to dissociate them. And because Brazil is a very interbred country, many of those traditions are inherited from somewhere else but Brazilian people have certainly added their own personal touch to them.
Take a peek at some of the most curious Christmas/New year traditions you’d commonly witness in Brazil during the festivities:
1 – Panettone
You know Christmas is coming in Brazil when you start seeing Panettones for sale just about everywhere – From the convenience stores to the more exquisite shops.
Originally from Italy, traditional Panettone is a type of sweet bread loaf with mixed comfits fruits. Yet there are many other variations like chocolate chips and chocolate mousse stuffed. No Christmas party is complete without at least 1 type of Panettone!2 – Raisins, raisins everywhere… And comfit fruits:
During the end of the year celebrations in Brazil you can find Raisins and Comfit Fruits not only in the Panettones but almost everywhere, as many other traditional dishes use them in their recipes.Some people are so tired of finding raisins in everything (specially in rice) that went as far as creating Internet Memes begging for it to stop.
I personally like them. 😀
3 – Chester:
As in several other places in the world, Roasted Turkey is usually the main course on Christmas feasts in Brazil. However, there’s a specific kind of Chicken that has gained a lot of popularity over the years because of the more affordable price: The Chester.
Presented (and trademarked) in 1982 by a large meat company called “Perdigão“, Chesters are artificially selected chickens with larger breasts and thighs and a more tender meat.
(Since I’m vegetarian, I’m totally out of this one though)
4 – Lentils, Nuts, Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Dates:
There’s a (originally Italian) superstition that says if you eat a tablespoon of lentils during the turn of the year you are going to have an abundant table for the rest of the new year to come.Many sorts of nuts are an Arabian tradition that brings wealth to those who eat them. 5 – Grapes:
Eating 3 or 7 (or whatever your lucky number is) grapes at the New Year’s Midnight will bring you prosperity, lucky and plenty of food. It was an inherited tradition from Portugal.6 – Specific colored (or new) underwear:
Yes, you read it right. It’s said that if you wear new underwear in the New Year’s eve it’ll bring you lucky in your love life. And another belief probably derived from African religions, says if you wear white underwear on the same occasion it’ll bring you peace, purity and harmony.There are some variations of this superstition, extending the new clothes to your whole outfit during both Christmas and New Year. Also, if you wear outfits in specific colors during the turn of the new year you’ll achieve different goals. The more commons (besides the white for peace and harmony) are yellow for money, red for passion, pink for love, green for hope and health, and blue for serenity.
7 – Coarse Salt, Champagne and jumping:
During the New Year celebrations, washing your belonging with coarse salt or sea water will keep all negative energies away.
Jumping three times while holding a champagne glass without spitting a single drop will also achieve the same goal. But if you get soaked in champagne by others it is considered good fortune for you. Jumping over 7 waves on the beach is also said to bring you good fortune.
8 – Leave offerings for the goddess “Iemanjá” at the sea/river:
It’s a ritual that also comes from the African religions. Leaving an offering for the goddess on New Year’s eve is supposed to help you to meet the most diversified goals in the year to come. The offerings may vary according to your specific goals but they are usually roses and flowers.9 – Popular TV Shows:
On Brazilian open Television Channels (like Globo) some Christmas/New Year special shows have been happening for so many decades that they also became sort of a tradition. Like Roberto Carlos’ end of the year specials.
Roberto Carlos is a very famous pop-singer that has been presenting an end of the year special show for more than twenty years by now. He’s the favorite of most grandmas in Brazil. Many other Brazilian artists also host their special shows during holidays, like Xuxa (famous as TV for children presenter) and Luciano Huck (another TV presenter).And what about the place you live? Are there any uncommon end of the year traditions? Tell me all about it!